Executive Board

2017 is an election year for the MSA Executive Board, and the organization is seeking candidates for two positions: Vice President and Treasurer. Visit our 2017 Elections page to find out more.

In addition to contributing to your industry, being a member of the MSA Executive Board offers a chance to grow personally and professionally, develop leadership skills, gain unique experiences, and make connections with a team of other passionate and motivated professionals. Service also provides unique opportunities to:

  • Develop valuable skills in nonprofit governance, program planning, and strategic planning
  • Make connections with top professionals in the arboriculture field
  • Gain recognition from your employer, community, or peers
Please reach out to us by September 30 if interested or if you have any questions. Know someone else who might be a good fit? Let us know that too!


2016-17 Executive Board

President – Jacob Busiahn

Jacob Busiahn

Arboriculture is a fairly recent endeavor for me. The majority of my life has been spent working on my family’s farm in southwest Minnesota, as a helicopter mechanic in the National Guard, and working in residential construction. In 2010 I was introduced to the ‘tree industry’ and haven’t looked back. I am currently the natural resources technician for the City of Shakopee, MN where I focus on the management and coordination of urban forestry operations. Previously, I was a forestry technician for the City of New Brighton, MN and a research assistant at the University of Minnesota Urban Forestry Department—where graduated from in 2012 with a B.S. in Forest Ecosystem Management and Conservation. Contact Jacob


Vice President – Valerie McClannahan


These days, trees are all I breathe, almost quite literally.  I currently work for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as a Senior Planner in Urban and Community Forestry.  Before that, I had been the Urban and Community Forestry Volunteer and Program Coordinator at the University of Minnesota.  I received a B.S. in Horticulture with a Minor in Urban Forestry, and am in the midst of completing my M. Ed. in Adult Education at the University of Minnesota.  My free time is spent focusing on bettering the programs and education offered by MSA, volunteering on the Shade Tree Short Course committee and the Arbor Month committee.  I also hold a place on the board for Brewing a Better Forest, a non-profit dedicated to getting all Minneapolis trees watered, and all Minneapolis citizens with a brew in hand.  If I’m not charging my focus towards trees, then I’m focusing on trees, going camping, hiking, cross country skiing, sitting outdoors drink in hand, when I can with my husband Liam and dog Pando. Contact Valerie


Treasurer – Open

Check out the Position Description.

Secretary – Mark Gertner

Mark has been on the Executive Committee since 2016. He is an ISA Certified Arborist with both municipal and private tree care experience and currently works for a tree care company specializing in tree disease diagnosis and treatment. Mark holds a B.S. in Urban Forestry from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. In his free time, he enjoys woodworking, just about anything outdoors, and spending time on his grandparent’s tree farm.


ISA Council Representative – Jim Vaughan

Jim Vaughan 05 2013

Jim retains two Bachelor Degrees from the University of Minnesota (Forest Resources and Science Education) and a Master’s Degree in Public Health Toxicology, also from the University of Minnesota. Jim has worked for the City of St. Louis Park for the past 28 years, serving in various capacities during this time, from Tree Inspector to Park Superintendent, culminating in his current position of Natural Resources Coordinator overseeing and managing St. Louis Parks’s natural resources; which include wildlife management, community forestry, stormwater management, native landscapes and other related areas. In addition to serving on the MSA board, Jim is the current President of the Minnesota Shade Tree Advisory Committee.



Executive Administrator –  The incomparable, Heidi Van Schooten


Heidi has served as the Executive Administrator since 2010. She also runs a tree care company with her husband and serves as the Treasure of a Board for a small Montessori School. She is a former Art Educator, having taught in high school classrooms for over 7 years. She is a practicing ceramic artist and community education Pottery teacher. She holds BA’s from Bethel University (Cultural Studies) and from the University of Minnesota (Studio Arts) and an MA from Saint Catherine’s University (Education).


Events and Membership Services Administrator – Danielle Tessmer

Danielle has been planning events for nonprofit organizations for over 10 years. She recently discovered the world of arboriculture through some community volunteer work, so was delighted when the opportunity became available to combine event planning with trees! Danielle attended the University of Minnesota, studying Global Studies and Italian Studies…ciaoWhen not working she can be found hiking trails, checking out new coffee shops and breweries, and spending time with her husband Andy and ever-energetic doodle Watson.